New York Governor Andrew Cuomo marked a huge step forward for transgender rights this week, announcing that trans men and women born in New York state would no longer need proof of sex-reassignment surgery in order to change the sex listed on their birth certificates.
LGBT rights groups like Empire State Pride Agenda have been lobbying for the change for several years, arguing that the state’s “proof of sex” requirement was discriminatory toward transgender people, and that an incorrect gender marker on a birth certificate can hinder or embarrass a trans person who cannot afford or does not want transitional surgeries.
The new policy will affect the entire state except for New York City, which issues and keeps its own birth certificates. Under the new policy, trans people will still need to prove that they are transgender:
A transgender person will still need to provide a notarized affidavit from the doctor treating them for what the American Psychiatric Association calls gender dysphoria, previously known as gender identity disorder, in order to get their birth certificate modified.
But under the policy the doctor will no longer need to affirm that their patient has had surgery, only that they are receiving “appropriate treatment.”
The Empire State Pride Agenda notes that this is the first step in improving and strengthening anti-discrimination policies in the workplace.
“Transgender New Yorkers face discrimination everyday just trying to be who they are,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We applaud the Department of Health for taking an important step toward a society where the everyday business of being yourself is easier.”
Trans people in New York City are still required to provide “proof of surgery” if they wish to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, though a recent lawsuit filed against the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is determined to change that.